Pico de Orizaba

Pico de Orizaba Trip Report (#1132)

New altitude record and our first high peak outside Europe! We acclimatized by first climbing La Malinche. I strongly recommend this climb before doing anything above 5000 m in Mexico. You just follow the well-worn trail up the hillside on the north face of the mountain. There is some loose rock just below the ridge and an easy scramble up to the 4460 m-summit. Two dogs followed us all the way up! It`s more a hike than a climb actually, and it can be done in a pair of hiking shoes. Nice views with a steaming Popo catching the eye to the southwest. In Tlachichuca, we stayed with the Reyes, and I highly recommend their services. We walked from Hidalgo to the hut at Piedra Grande to breathe even more thin air. Off course, our packs travelled all the way up on the 4x4. The next day we hiked up to the base of the Jamapa glacier and back as planned to complete our acclimatization schedule. Most parties followed the gully just to the left (as seen from below) of the Tongue (of the glacier) to avoid the rockfall and icy conditions on the right. Wear a helmet if you plan to follow the Tongue. Unfortunately, there were two accidents in this area while we stayed on the mountain, with one person dying. We put on our crampons just below the gully. The next day, on our first attempt of the summit, we were turned back by strong winds. And with no weather forecast we decided to return to Tlachichuca that day. The forecast was good, however, so we came back up again on the 4x4 the next day! After a few hours sleep, we left the hut at 2.00 am and summited at 8.30 am. Spectacular crater and excellent views all around. The glacier wasn`t icy at all, mostly hard snow. Crevasses were almost absent. We didn`t rope up. It`s OK if you know how to self arrest with your ice axe. But bring a rope and a few ice screws for belaying in case of icy conditions.

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